AS the official campaign period for national candidates starts today, they are reminded on the prohibitions and the corresponding penalties under the law.

In particular, they and their local partymates are warned on the amount they should spend for each voter.

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Expenditures also do not only mean money but also the use of facilities, providing transportation or even giving things of value, said Luie Guia, immediate past president of

the Lawyers’ League for Liberty (Libertas).

The group is a non-profit organization of lawyers pledging to uphold the law and justice, reform and to promote democracy and human rights.

Under Batas Pambansa (BP) 881 or the Omnibus Election Code, campaign expenditure should be P3 per individual candidate supported by a political party; P5 for one not nominated by a party; P5 for political parties; and P10 for presidential candidates.

“If they use it in the campaign they should be included in the computation of the expenditures,” Guia said.

Expenses do not include the printing of sample ballots and the employment of a legal counsel.

Under the law, aside from personal funds, donations from those not prohibited by law to give, including the use of facilities, can also serve as a candidate’s fund source.

Guia, though, reminded candidates that prohibited donations are those from financial institutions, public utilities, those exploiting the country’s natural resources, civil servants and foreigners and foreign corporations.

“Banks cannot donate, but it can let you borrow (funds) for your campaign. Candidates cannot solicit, but there is no limit on how much a person or corporation can donate or contribute to a candidate,” he said.

And while fundraising is

generally allowed, BP 881 bans certain fund-raising activities, like staging beauty contests, and holding of dances, lotteries, cockfights, games, boxing bouts and bingo games.

Prohibited expenses include donation by candidates during the campaign period up to election day, except for tithes and habitual contributions to scholarships, and giving

of transportation, food or drinks or things of value during public meetings.

“It is prohibited to solicit from congressmen or from candidates,” Guia said.

Vote-buying is prohibited, but its definition not only refers to the giving of money, as it includes offers and promises, franchises and grants.

“If it’s a promise for good governance policy, like the paving of roads, it is not vote-buying,” Guia said.

He also said that campaign contribution and expense disclosures are not just the responsibility of the candidates but also that of the donor.

“Contractors and firms should also report election expenses paid to them,” Guia said.

He said violations of the disclosure requirement have been decriminalized under Republic Act 7166 or the Synchronized National and Local Elections Act of 1991, so that only administrative penalties are imposed. (RHM)